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Abraham I 


Incoln and 


the 




Statehood 


of 


Nevada 






LINCOLN ROOM 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 
LIBRARY 




MEMORIAL 

the Class of 1901 

founded by 

HARLAN HOYT HORNER 

and 

HENRIETTA CALHOUN HORNER 



(Reprinted from AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION JOURNAL, March and April, 1940) 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE STATEHOOD 

OF NEVADA 



On Close Division of Public Opinion in 1864 a New Free State was Important — Decision to 
Admit Nevada — Great Hopes for Future Expansion — New Constitution Telegraphed to Wash- 
ington in Time to Proclaim State and Have its Vote Cast in Presidential Election. 



By F. Lauriston Bullard 

Editorial Writer, Boston Herald 



ON the wall of the Assemhly Chamber in the capi- 
tol of the State of Nevada there hangs a portrait 
of Abraham Lincoln. Its acquisition was au- 
thorized by the Legislature in connection with the cele- 
bration of the semi-centennial of Nevada's statehood. 
The unveiling took place on March 14, 1915. The 
painting was placed above the Speaker's chair in the 
room occupied by the popular branch of the Legislature 
in commemoration of the events that brought about 
the admission of Nevada to the Union, and, as the 
Governor said, "to inspire legislators to give to the 
people the best that is in them." The anniversary of 
Nevada's accession (October 31, 1864) is observed an- 
nually as a holiday with more or less formality, and last 
year was celebrated with the pageantry of a Diamond 
Jubilee. 

"Nevada or a Million Men" 

That the admission of the Silver State was consid- 
ered a necessity for the consummation of the policies 
of the Civil War President is well known, but several 
important aspects of the situation at the time are hardly 
known at all. "Easier to admit Nevada than to raise 
another million men," is the familiar explanation of 
Lincoln's policy, this on the authority of the account 
given to the public in 1898 by Charles A. Dana. The 
purpose of this article is to bring forward certain neg- 
lected phases of the story and to indicate that the Dana 
account may not in all respects be accurate. 

During about half of the decade of the 1850's Carson 
County, in the western part of the Territory of Utah, 
was occupied only by several groups of Mormons, and 
emigrants bound for California hurried through what 
seemed to them a Valley of Death littered as was the 
trail by skeletons of cattle and men. When a clash 
between the United States and the Mormon authorities 
became imminent in 1857, about a thousand Zionists at 
the call of Brigham Young abandoned promptly the 
properties in the Valley which their labor had made 
valuable and hastened back to Salt Lake. The discovery 
of the Comstock Lode precipitated a wild rush for a 
new El Dorado. On the second day before he quit the 
Presidency, James Buchanan signed the Act which 
transformed Carson County into the Territory of Ne- 
vada. In fewer than four years the Territory was ad- 
vanced to Statehood. The census of 1860 gave Nevada 
a population of only 6,857. During the debate in Con- 
gress of the Enabling Act for Nevada's admission the 
population was estimated all the way from 30,000 to 
45,000. Statehood must mean the addition of two 
Senators and one Representative to the National Legis- 
lature. The Apportionment Act in force at that time 
established a population ratio of 127,381 for each mem- 
ber of Congress. In all the succeeding 75 years Nevada 
never has attained that population. 



But in the middle 60's everybody assumed that Ne- 
vada was destined to become a populous and wealthy 
State. The frenzied speculation of the wildcat era was 
subsiding, but sane observers in conservative publica- 
tions declared that a mighty commonwealth had been 
founded on the plateau between the Rockies and the 
Sierras and predicted that the stream of bullion which 
would issue from its mines would pay the nation's war 
debt. Senator Latham of California insisted that even 
by the time the Territory had qualified for admission 
the population would exceed 100,000, whereas the 
Golden State had come in with a population no larger. 
The eastern newspapers were commenting on the great 
progress the Territory had made in four years. The 
New York Times stressed "the vast multitudes of emi- 
grants" who were pouring into the region. The New 
York Herald foresaw a "future for the new State" that 
would be as prosperous as its beginning. Greeley's 
Tribune described in glowing terms the prospects of 
the coming State, and indicated that its mines might 
pay not only the interest on the national debt but "the 
entire debt . . . within the present generation." The 
Secretary of the Interior in his report for 1864 con- 
ceived that the production of the silver regions "must 
soon reach a magnitude unprecedented in the history 
of mining operations." Bishop Matthew Simpson in- 
dulged in gaudy rhetoric to describe the value of the 
Nevada mines — "the more the mines are worked the 
richer they yield." Observers believed also that once 
the Pacific Railroad should have spanned the Conti- 
nent silver would not be the only valuable export of the 
new State. Agriculture must always be limited, but 
several minerals would supplement silver when the 
mines became more readily accessible and freight rates 
receded to a reasonable level. 

Nevada Desired Statehood 

The people of Nevada wanted to enter the Union. 
Three months before Congress passed an Enabling Act 
they voted four to one for Statehood. During the ter- 
ritorial years a little body of troops organized in that 
distant region kept open the sole means of communica- 
tion between the East and the Pacific coast. For that val- 
uable war service the Territory borrowed money at the 
rate of \ l / 2 per cent, per month and incurred a debt for 
which the State was not reimbursed until 1929. The gov- 
ernment at Washington under all normal conditions 
would have delayed action. Nobody foresaw, however, 
that Nevada would provide the nation with a unique 
case of arrested development. Nevertheless, even though 
the future had been clearly disclosed to the Administra- 
tion, Statehood would have been authorized without 
delay. The Administration was looking for additional 
loyal States. Congress passed Enabling Acts for Colo- 
rado and Nebraska, territories which also fell far short 



— 




This portrait of Abraham Lincoln hangs above the 
Speaker's Chair in the Assembly Chamber in the State 
House at Carson City. 

It was painted by Charles W. Shean, New York City, 
and authorized by the Nevada Legislature at the time 
of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Statehood. 

Thus Nevada emphasizes Lincoln's connection with 
the admission of the State at a critical time in the 
Civil War. 

of the apportionment population. To expedite the ad- 
mission of Nevada its constitution was telegraphed en- 
tire from Carson City to Washington a few days before 
the national election of 1864. The people of the Terri- 
tory probably understood only in part the reasons for 
the hurry. 

Prior to the organization of the territorial govern- 
ment midway of 1861 there was little government or 
none in Carson County. Conditions in that portion of 
Utah were hopelessly chaotic. During one period three 
governments are said to have tried simultaneously to 
function. The discovery of the Comstock on June 12, 
1859, on the eastern slope of Mount Davidson, about 
twenty miles from the California boundary, made con- 
fusion worse confounded. In a short time Virginia City 
multiplied from nothing to a hurly-burly of 10,000 min- 
ers. San Francisco was the centre of the orgy of spec- 
ulation that followed. A government report states that 
3000 silver companies were organized in the California 
city and that 30,000 persons bought stock in them. "The 
amount of business done in Virginia City was twice as 
great as in any other town of equal size in the United 
States. It provided more silver in a year than any 
other mining district of equal size ever did." Other 
silver ledges were soon uncovered and other little camps 
became wild and unruly towns. 

Terry and Stewart; Mark Twain 

Within two days of each other there arrived in Car- 



son City two men who represented opposing ideas of 
what should be the destiny of that region. Judge David 
S. Terry, born in Kentucky, had resigned as Chief Jus- 
tice of the California Supreme Court shortly before his 
duel with Senator David Broderick. He came to Vir- 
ginia City, according to the not too reliable charge of 
a San Francisco newspaper, "at the request of Jeffer- 
son Davis from whom he had received a commission to 
be territorial governor of Nevada in case it became 
sympathetic with the southern cause." In 1863 he 
joined the Confederate army and fought at Chicka- 
mauga. William M. Stewart, who was to become one 
of Nevada's first Senators, born in New York, was an 
ardent Unionist. After ten years in California he estab- 
lished a law office in Nevada and became a specialist in 
mining law. He spent four years in vindicating the 
interests of the original claimants to the Comstock. In 
that turbulent period he rode the storm, with Terry as 
his usual opponent until the outbreak of the war. 

The organization of Carson County as the Territory 
of Nevada was expected to end what was plainly 
an impossible situation. There was an interval of 
eighteen weeks between the President's approval of the 
bill creating the new Territory and the arrival of its 
tirst and only Governor. James W. Nye doubtless owed 
lus appointment to his friend, the Secretary of State. 
The younger Charles Francis Adams, who traveled with 
him and Seward on a campaign tour in the Middle 
West in 1860, described Nye as an able stump speaker 
and politician, well adapted for the life of the mining 
camps, and "a character!" In his annual message of 
1862 President Lincoln referred to Nevada as a region 
in which "the Federal officers" on their arrival there 
"found existing the leaven of treason," a condition with 
which Nye was amply equipped to deal. As Secretary 
for the Territory, another Cabinet member, Attorney 
General Bates, obtained the appointment of one Orion 
Clemens, who in turn named as his secretary his 
brother, Sam, whom the world knows as Mark Twain. 
During more than two years of the three years and 
four months that Nevada remained a Territory the 
question of Statehood was agitated. In 1862 the Terri- 
torial Legislature passed a bill for a referendum vote, 
and for the election of delegates for a constitutional con- 
vention in case Statehood should win. In a total vote of 
8162 only 1502 were recorded in opposition. Late in 
December of that year Representative James M. Ashley 
introduced in Congress a bill providing for the admis- 
sion of Nevada. Precisely in the same form he offered 
on the same day bills in behalf of Colorado, Nebraska, 
and Utah, and a bill for a temporary government for 
Idaho. These measures encountered long delay in the 
House, but the Senate passed the Nevada Act in March, 
1863. Nevada duly elected the convention delegates and 
they spent about six weeks towards the end of the year 
in drafting a constitution. And then, for reasons which 
will appear, in January, 1864, the people rejected it by 
a four-to-one vote, 8851 to 2157. 

Territory Faithful to Union 

Meantime in more ways than one the Territory was 
demonstrating its fidelity to the Union. The people 
always have been proud of what Nevada did for the 
Sanitary Commission, the Red Cross of Civil War days. 
Its per capita contributions were larger that those of any 
other State or Territory, despite the fact that there was 
a good deal of secession sentiment in Carson City and 
Virginia City. Nevada's greatest service was the keep- 
ing open of the Overland Trail. The Federal Govern- 



^73.7 LC3 



ment early in 1861 withdrew all troops from the Pacific 
coast, except one regiment of infantry and three batter- 
ies of artillery. The blockade and other activities at 
sea reduced heavily the roundabout services between the 
coasts via Panama. The Southern Trail, through 
Texas. Arizona and New Mexico, was in the hands of 
the Confederacy. Only the Overland was left. The 
daily mail service over that route between the Missouri 
River and Sacramento remained as a vital link of com- 
munication. This was the covered wagon trail. More- 
over, its discontinuance might have meant the shutting 
down of the mines. Those mines, during the war and 
the years immediately following, produced for the gov- 
ernment $500,000,000. 

In this situation three separate demands came from 
Washington for the Territory to equip and mount, sub- 
sist and pay, a body of troops for the policing of several 
hundreds of miles of a trail which was exposed to the 
raids of bandits and Indians. Nevada kept the Over- 
land open. About 1 ISO men were recruited for three- 
year service and many besides volunteered for home 
guard duty. They kept that vast region in touch with 
the East. The Territory borrowed the money to pay 
these troops and the State assumed the debt. This con- 
stituted a reimbursement claim, the justice of which was 
conceded for years by the Congressional committees that 
examined it, but which was not finally allowed and paid 
until ten years ago. The State then received approxi- 
mately $595,000, of which only $110,000 represented 
the original principal. 

From this record the great majority of the people 
derived great satisfaction. They had suppressed seces- 
sion, kept the Overland clear, and contributed hand- 
somely for humanitarian funds. When the transconti- 
nental telegraph line closed the last gap and completed 
the line from coast to coast the Territorial Legislature 
sent a message to President Lincoln declaring that "the 
last-born of the Nation will be the last to desert the 
flag." 

Mining Titles Doubtful 

One reason for seeking statehood seldom appears in 
the record. Many mine owners were none too sure of 
the legality of their titles. The mining policy of the 
Federal government was still unsettled. There was no 
national mining code. Large sums were available for 
the development of the industry if and when investors 
could be sure that their property rights would withstand 
challenge in the courts. Law suits, next to silver, were 
Nevada's biggest crop, and a most profitable source of 
revenue for lawyers. Judges who received relatively 
minute salaries were sitting in cases involving rights 
worth millions of dollars. Dr. Mack, the historian of 
Nevada, states that the territorial judiciary was "cor- 
rupt," that many of the judges were "susceptible to out- 
side influences." Amidst a mania for the organization 
of corporations, Mark Twain is suspected of the author- 
ship of the quip in a San Francisco newspaper that "if 
two men sit down here to play cards they incorporate 
the game." The people believed that condition could 
not be corrected under the territorial system. They con- 
sidered representation in Washington on a parity with 
the other States to be essential for their protection. 
Mining questions during that time were under active 
debate in Congress. 

Why then did the people reject the Constitution 
which their representatives had prepared? The man 
responsible beyond all others for its rejection was none 



other than William M. Stewart. He served in the con- 
vention as chairman of the judiciary committee. Cer- 
tain taxation clauses he considered obnoxious, and when 
his amendment for their rectification was rejected by 
the convention he unlimbered all his formidable artillery 
against the projected Constitution. He rang all the 
changes on the charge that it would "tax the poor 
miner out of existence." It would kill the mining in- 
dustry because it would tax the miner's shafts and drifts 
and bedrock tunnels whether these were productive or 
not. At least one historian, Hubert Howe Bancroft, 
pronounces this a "pretext," but without stating his 
reasons. 

Abraham Lincoln and Nevada, 1864 

A second attempt to qualify for statehood was more 
successful. It was more than a movement by local initi- 
ative. It was instigated also from Washington. The 
party in power needed Nevada. The president wanted 
its aid for achieving an amendment to the Federal Con- 
stitution that should end the existence of slavery beyond 
all argument or cavil. Congress having passed a state- 
hood act, Governor Nye called another convention to 
meet on July 4. The taxation clauses were omitted. 
Stewart mobilized all his powers to procure the adop- 
tion of this instrument, and the people did ratify it in 
early September. 

In this story of the relations between Abraham Lin- 
coln and Nevada, 1864 is the crucial year. The se- 
quence of events is of the first importance for under- 
standing what happened. A paragraph of dates should 
be useful. In that year Nevada voted five times. On 
January 19 the people rejected one Constitution and on 
September 7 they accepted another. They chose the 
delegates for the second convention ; they elected certain 
territorial officers, and in turn they elected the officers 
who would take over the affairs of the new state. Mean- 
time the other half of the drama was under way in 
Washington. Ashley in the House had offered a resolu- 
tion for an abolition amendment on December 14, 1863. 
Abolition amendments were proposed in the Senate on 
January 11, 1864, and the Committee on the Judiciary 
reported what became the Thirteenth Amendment on 
February 1. On February 24 the Senate passed a bill for 
Nevada's admission providing that a constitution should 
be submitted to the people on October 11. The House 
passed this bill on March 17 and Lincoln signed it four 
days later. The abolition amendment passed the Sen- 
ate, 38 to 6, on April 8. In May both Houses passed 
an amendment to the Nevada Enabling Act changing 
the date for the people to vote on their proposed Con- 
stitution from October 1 1 to September 7. Lincoln 
added his signature to this bill on May 21. On June 
15 the House failed to muster the necessary two-thirds 
vote for a suspension of the rules in behalf of the aboli- 
tion amendment and the Ashley motion for reconsider- 
ation was allowed to lie on the Speaker's desk. In July 
the Nevada convention met, and the people duly 
adopted the new Constitution in September. The En- 
abling Act contained an emergency provision that the 
Constitution should be submitted to the President, and 
that he thereupon should proclaim Nevada a State. That 
proclamation he issued on October 31. The Presiden- 
tial election followed on November 8. Ashley called 
up his reconsideration motion on January 31, 1865, and 
that day the abolition amendment passed the House 119 



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Sheets from telegram transmitting constitution of Nevada, October, 1864. Telegram to Seward above, right, 

first sheet at left ; below, sheet prohibiting slavery. 



to 56 — a margin of three votes. One of those was cast 
by the new Representative from Nevada. 

Fear That South Might Again Have Balance 
of Power 

Throughout the war the President was pondering the 
problem of the reconstruction of the Union after the 
victory at arms should have been won. Midway of the 
conflict Congress began to give serious attention to the 
question. A deadlock developed between the executive 
and legislative branches of the government. Lincoln, 
with all his magnanimity, could not forget that he was 
the titular head of a political party. As a practical poli- 
tician he must have contemplated the possibility that 
when the votes of the reconstructed Southern States 
should be combined with the votes of the Northern anti- 
war Democrats the control of Congress might go to the 
men who had fought to destroy the Union or had used 
their influence to hobble the policies of the Administra- 
tion. With the abolition of slavery the three-fifths rule 
in the Constitution would become merely a matter of 
historical interest, and the South would stand to in- 
crease its power in Congress unless the basis of repre- 
sentation should be altered or the power of the North 
should be increased. The leaders of the dominant party 
in Congress would see to it that the President should be 
reminded of these matters. New and loyal States be- 
came a primary consideration. Every new State would 
mean two more Senators and at least one Representa- 
tive. West Virginia having been admitted, the party 
strategists scanned the mountains and the prairies in 
quest of communities that might be organized for state- 
hood. Three Territories offered possibilities. On the day 
that the Enabling Act for Nevada was approved the 
President signed a similar bill for Colorado to qualify, 
and four weeks later the Nebraska bill was approved. 
The party in power had considered also the possibility 
of adding Utah, New Mexico, and Montana to the 
Union. 

In view of the criticisms often made of the admis- 
sion of Nevada it may be noted that at the time 
Colorado had a population no larger. The Centennial 
State had to wait until 1876 for admission. The 
people rejected one Constitution and Andrew Johnson 
twice vetoed a statehood bill based on another. During 
the debate Charles Sumner declared that instead of an 
apportionment population there were not more than 
25,000 in the Territory. As to Nebraska, the people 
voted against becoming a State in 1864, and in 1866 
a majority of only 100 in a vote of 8000 approved 
a Constitution. This time Congress admitted a State 
over a Presidential veto. At that time Nebraska could 
not satisfy the apportionment qualification. For that 
matter, Idaho did not attain that representation basis 
until ten years after admission, and Wyoming entered 
the Union in 1890 with only a third of the apportion- 
ment ratio and never yet has satisfied that requirement. 

Nevada and Lincoln's Second Term 

These States did not come into the Union under 
emergency conditions. Nevada did. The vote of at 
least one additional state was believed to be necessary 
for the abolition of slavery, and Congress hurried 
forward its admission in order to make sure of three 
more electoral votes for Lincoln's second term. 

Each House twice debated the Nevada bill. In the 
thirty-seventh Congress the Senate passed it and again 
in the thirty-eighth Congress, but the measure failed 
of passage the first lime in the House. In the upper 
chamber in 1863 "Ben" Wade insisted that the criterion 



for the admission of a State ought to be the rapidity 
of the increase of its population and not the present 
population. "I am credibly informed by the Commis- 
sioner of the General Land Office," he said, "that 
Nevada's population cannot be less at this time than 
45,000, and increasing with unexampled rapidity." A 
motion to prescribe a population of 65,000 having been 
rejected, the bill was passed 24 to 16. The "Yeas" 
included such familiar names as Harlan, the two Lanes, 
Morrill, Sumner, Wilmot, and Wilson of Massachu- 
setts. On that same day the House refused to suspend 
the rules so that the Nevada and Colorado bills might 
be taken from the table. 

The Senate in the first session of the new Congress 
had no trouble in passing the bill again. Wade reported 
it from the Committee on Territories on Feb. 16, and 
it came up for passage eight days thereafter. The 
measure required that the Nevada constitutional con- 
vention should provide "by an ordinance irrevocable 
without the consent of the United States and the people 
of the State: First, that there shall be neither slavery 
nor involuntary servitude in the State otherwise than 
in the punishment of crime. . . Second, that perfect 
toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no 
inhabitant of the State shall ever be molested in person 
or property on account of his or her mode of religious 
worship ; and Third, that the people . . . agree and 
declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to 
the unappropriated public lands lying within the Terri- 
tory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole 
and entire disposition of the United States." A Con- 
stitution having been adopted by a majority of legal 
voters was to be certified, with a copy thereof, to the 
President, and thereupon it would "be the duty of the 
President of the United States to issue his proclama- 
tion declaring the State to be admitted into the Union 
. . . without any further action whatever on the part 
of Congress." There was very little debate. The 
Congressional Globe simply states that the bill was 
passed. In the House on March 17 this bill was read 
in extenso. Ashley intimated that the measure needed 
no explanation further than to say that "it passed the 
Senate two years ago and again unanimously at this 
session." And again the Globe records simply that the 
bill "passed." 

No Record Vote on Statehood Bill in Senate 

That wotfd "unanimously" is important. A recent 
Lincoln biographer has said that neither House was 
willing to have a record Yea and Nay vote taken, that 
"whether through clerical inattention or by official 
arrangement" these votes were not recorded. That the 
bill was "engrossed, read a third time, and passed" is 
all we know. But it does not necessarily follow that 
the members of the two Houses wished to dodge pub- 
licity. Nobody in either House asked for the Yeas 
and Nays. In both Houses there were those opposed 
to, or not entirely satisfied with, the policy represented 
by the bill. Yet, on Ashley's authority, the Senate had 
"unanimously" endorsed the bill, and Ashley certainly 
was confident of its acceptance by the House. Nobody 
challenged him. He had the votes. It would be inter- 
esting to know how that vote stood, of course, if only 
because a minority of 48 had been unwilling to allow 
the bill to come before the House twelve months before. 

Decidedly one would like to have exact information 
about that vote, because the President himself is repre- 
sented to have instigated log-rolling methods and to 
have authorized pledges of patronage to make sure the 
bill should not fail. The testimony of Charles A. 1 >ana 



on this point is generally accepted. His story first came 
to the attention of the general public in 1898 while his 
"Recollections" were running in McClnre's Magazine. 
In the same year they appeared in book form. We 
now know that these "Recollections" were prepared by 
a ghost writer, none other than Ida M. Tarbell. The 
distinguished editor of The Sun did not want to take 
the time and trouble to do the job himself. Miss 
Tarbell got her material in a long scries of conferences. 
Dana was to see the proofs. His death occurred in 
October, 1897, so that he lived to scan only a single 
chapter. He had told this story, however, in precisely 
the same words, in a lecture at New Haven in 1896. 
This address was copyrighted in his name. His son 
allowed it to be published in a limited edition in 1899. 

Charles A. Dana's Account of Vote in House 

Dana describes what he recalls as having taken place 
"in March, 1864" when the question of Nevada's state- 
hood "finally came up in the House of Representatives." 
Dana then was Assistant Secretary of War with an 
office on the third story of the War Department build- 
ing which the President visited at times. On this 
occasion the President expressed his anxiety "about 
this vote" which was "going to be close" and must be 
taken "next week." Dana cited as Democrats who 
could be counted on James E. English, of Connecticut, 
and "Sunset" Cox, of Ohio. Not enough. More 
Democratic votes must be had. The President named 
three Democrats with whom he wanted Dana to "deal." 
Dana did not name them. But with the distinct authori- 
zation of the President he was to promise two men from 
New York and one from New Jersey whatever they 
might want, no matter what it might be. Dana quotes 
the President as saying: "Here is the alternative: that 
we carry this vote, or be compelled to raise another 
million and I don't know how manv more men. and 



fight nobody knows how long. It is a question of three 
votes, or new armies." Dana "saw" the three men. 
They were "afraid of their party." Two of them 
wanted "internal revenue collectors' appointments," 
whether for themselves or for constituents is not clear. 
The third wanted for a friend "a very important 
appointment about the custom house of New York." 
Dana gave them his word. They voted "right." Among 
other details in this comprehensive account Dana 
records that the custom house appointment was delayed 
until Andrew Johnson assumed the Presidency and that 
he refused to fulfill "the sacred promise" his prede- 
cessor had made. 

This episode was reported by Mr. Dana first to an 
historical organization as an example of Lincoln's 
"supreme political skill." What records Mr. Dana had 
we do not know. It has been assumed always that 
a man in his position, with his years of experience as 
a writer and editor, must be accepted as a competent 
authority even though he relied on memory alone. 
Yet the more carefully one examines the situation, and 
the more he studies accessible records, the more difficult 
he finds it to accept in every respect the Dana account. 
Incidentally, that was anything but an example of 
"supreme political skill." It was commonplace, the 
ordinary practice of politicians in office. Lincoln is 
described as doing what governors and presidents 
always have done ; he used the appointive power to 
accomplish his purposes. What necessity could there 
have been for buying Democratic votes? The full 
membership of the House then was 183, of whom the 
dominant party, sometimes called Republicans and often 
Unionists, could count upon more than 100. Schuyler 
Colfax was elected Speaker by a vote of 101 to 81, 
which is described by James G. Blaine as representing 
"the distinctive Republican strength in the House." He 
adds that "on issues directlv relating: to the war the 




Chief Justice Taney administering oath of office to Lincoln as President. (From Chief Justice Taney home. 

Frederick, Md.) 



Administration was stronger than these figures indicate, 
being always able to command the support" of several 
others to whom he alludes. The admission of Nevada 
was a party policy, yet the Dana account depicts the 
clear Republican majority in the House as seriously at 
odds over what everybody knew was an important 
party and Administration measure. 

Lincoln's "Million Men" 

What about that additional "million" men? Did the 
President for once indulge in hyperbole? At no time 
did the grand total of Union troops number a million. 
The total enlistments, which must have included many 
re-enlistments, for the four years of the war fell some- 
what short of three millions. On New Year's Day 
of 1864 there were in the service 860,737 men. One 
year later the number reached 959,460. These totals 
include both regulars and volunteers, and are divided 
almost equally between soldiers present and absentees. 
The President presumably was indicating his view that 
the addition of Nevada would be of great value for its 
moral effect and for its implications as to the destruc- 
tion of slavery. 

And what about other witnesses ? Nobody else has 
tales to tell about the purchase of Democratic votes for 
the Nevada bill, but there are several who relate stories 
similar to Dana's in connection with the adoption of the 
resolution for the abolition amendment to the Consti- 
tution. For the passage of that resolution a majority 
would not be enough. It must have two-thirds in both 
Senate and House. 

Three Votes Needed for Abolition Amendment 

Congressman A. G. Riddle, of Ohio, published his 
"Recollections of War Times" in 1895. He relates that 
the votes of two or three Democrats in the House were 
"absolutely necessary" to get the measure through, and 
that Mr. Ashley reported "in confidence" their acqui- 
sition. A certain member would "largely augment his 
chances" for a job he coveted by voting for "the abolish- 
ing amendment." Another Democrat would ensure in 
like manner his success for a contested seat in the 
next House. It was necessary also "to secure the 
absence of one Democrat from the House on the day 
of the vote." Riddle intimates that his absence was to 
be rewarded by the postponement until the next Con- 
gress of a bill which "a railroad in Pennsylvania" 
objected to, he being an attorney for the road. Riddle 
says that he "cannot vouch for the means employed to 
secure the Democrats," but that the two in question 
voted for the amendment, and that "the railroad lawyer 
was taken so ill that day that he could not be carried 
into the House." 

To be considered also is the modicum of evidence 
offered by Congressman George W. Julian, of Indiana, 
whose "Political Recollections" appeared in 1884. He 
alludes to the solemnity of the spectacle "pending the 
roll-call" on the amendment, and says: "The success 
of the measure had been considered very doubtful," 
and depended upon certain negotiations the result of 
which was not fully assured and the particulars of which 
never reached the public. 

Definite and emphatic in his testimony is a third 
member of the House, John B. Alley, of Massachusetts. 
He contributed an article to the volume of "Reminis- 
cences of Abraham Lincoln" which was edited by Allen 
Thorndike Rice, and published in 1888. According 
to this Congressman the President sent for two mem- 
bers of the House and said that the two votes lacking 
to make the two-thirds required "must be procured." 




V 



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CHARLES A. DANA, 1819-1897 
Assistant Secretary of War, 1863-1865. Editor of The 
Sun (N. Y.) for 30 years. (Picture from James Har- 
rison Wilson, Charles A. Dana. Harper's. 1907.) 

When asked how that could be done, Lincoln is reported 
to have said : "I am President of the United States, 
clothed with great power. The abolition of slavery by 
constitutional provision settles the fate for all coming 
time not only of the millions now in bondage, but of 
unborn millions to come — a measure of such importance 
that those two votes must be procured. I leave it to 
you to determine how it shall be done ; but remember 
that I am President of the United States, clothed with 
immense power, and I expect you to procure those 
votes." This witness concludes his statement thus : 
"These gentlemen understood the significance of the 
remark. The votes were procured, the constitutional 
amendment was passed and slavery was abolished 
forever." 

"Log-Rolling" Used? 

The historian Rhodes nowhere discusses this matter 
at length. He was aided in the preparation of his 
account of the adoption of the amendment by a son of 
Representative Ashley. Conceding that many of the 
Democrats "acted according to real convictions," and 
expressing the opinion that no money was used, he 
says that "others" of the Democrats "were won over 
by a process of log-rolling." In estimating the value 
of the Dana account it should be noted that he was 
in Washington in all probability when both the Nevada 
vote and the amendment vote were taken. The Official 
Records of the War .show that Dana was in his office 
on March 2 and 15 in 1864 and on ten non-consecutive 
days in January, 1865. 



On the face of the record the necessity for using the 
powers of the President to buy votes for the admission 
of Nevada does not appear. It certainly does appear 
to have been necessary to use the powers of the Execu- 
tive to ensure the adoption of the resolution for the 
Thirteenth Amendment. The actual sentiment of the 
House on the statehood question was not disclosed by 
the adverse vote of March 3, 1863. On that last day 
of the thirty-seventh Congress the Administration 
lacked ten votes of the two-thirds required to suspend 
the rules. Elihu Washburne wanted to have taken 
from the Speaker's table the bills for the organization 
of both Nevada and Colorado. Yallandigham objected 
and demanded the Yeas and Nays. As of December 
1, 1862, the membership of that Congress was: Repub- 
icans 100, Democrats 44, Unionists 30, with three 
vacancies. The vote on Washburne's motion was 65 
to 48. Among the many not voting were several 
Republicans. In the melee of a final session many 
curious things happen. One risks little if he assumes 
that on the straight issue of Nevada's statehood the 
Administration would have won. 

Difficulty in Securing Necessary Two-Thirds Vote 

At all times there were grave doubts if the abolition 
resolution could be put through the House. On June 
15, 1864, it was defeated 93 to 65, with 23 not voting — 
13 short of the requisite two-thirds. After the election 
of the following November the Administration had no 
doubt of what the result would be if action should be 
put over until the thirty-ninth Congress should convene. 
In his annual message the President dealt with the 
issue. For the first time the voice of the people had 
been heard thereom The new House which would 
take office in March, 1865, would surely pass the 




mi 






Lincoln and Douglas at Galesburg 



amendment. Why then "should not the present House, 
which had failed to adopt it at the previous session, 
now act upon it favorably ? . . . Why not agree that the 
sooner the better?" The vote was taken on the last 
day of January, 1865. The amendment carried 119 to 
5b, with eight not voting, a bare margin of three votes. 
Little wonder that the floor and the galleries were swept 
witli a storm of cheers. Recorded as voting Yea were 
1 1 Democrats from the non-slave States. Of the two 
mentioned by Dana, and said by him to have been 
reckoned as "sure" by Lincoln, English voted Yea and 
Cox Nay. Of the abstainers six had voted Nay, and 
only two had abstained, in the vote of the preceding 
June. 

Nevada's Votes Desired for November, 1864, 
Election 

While it may not have been necessary to employ log- 
rolling methods to bring Nevada into the Union, the 
President and many party leaders were determined that 
the new State should be admitted before the November 
election and they depended on its lone Representative, 
Henry G. Worthington, for one of the votes needed for 
the passage of the abolition resolution. The eastern 
newspapers make the reasons for haste abundantly clear. 
The New York World on the day Nevada was pro- 
claimed a State declared that the President was count- 
ing on the three additional electoral votes to which 
the new member of the family would be entitled. The 
New York Herald expressed similar opinions. The 
Boston Transcript said : "There can be no doubt how 
the three electoral votes of the new State will be cast." 
During that black summer of 1864 Abraham Lincoln 
for once lost confidence in his own destiny. Assum- 
ing that he could not be returned for a second term, 
he had every member of his Cabinet sign a paper, 
which, as they learned weeks later, contained his pledge 
to cooperate with his successful opponent for the sav- 
ing of the Union. Even as late as mid-October his 
defeatist mood came back at intervals. One evening 
in the War Department telegraph office he wrote out 
in his own hand and from memory an estimate of the 
prospective electoral vote. He allowed McClellan 114 
electors and the Administration 117. He did not count 
Nevada although the arrangements for its admission 
had been completed. Major Eckert added the new 
State's three votes to the President's total. 

For Nevada to be admitted in time it was necessary 
to modify the Enabling Act and to use extraordinary 
means to get the Constitution of the new State to 
Washington. Congress thoughtfully provided for both 
contingencies. The date for the popular vote on the 
proposed Constitution had been set too late in the Act. 
Governor Nye forwarded a memorial to the national 
capital suggesting that this vote be set forward four 
weeks, so that the voters might pass on the Constitu- 
tion on the day that Nevada would elect county and 
territorial officers. Between this date and the Presi- 
dential election there would be an interval of two 
months. The poll must be canvassed by the Governor, 
the United States District Attorney, and the Terri- 
torial Chief Justice, and certified to the President in 
Washington together with a copy of the Constitution. 
Also the new State must organize the districts for the 
national election. 

Constitution Telegraphed to Washington 

To complete the process of admission, resort was 
had to the wire. The trip from Carson City to Wash- 
ington was no easy journey in those days. On Dec. 15 



the first State Legislature elected William M. Stewart 
and James W. Nye as Nevada's Senators. They 
traveled by way of Panama and took the oath of office 
in the Senate Chamber on Feb. 1, the day after the 
adoption in the House of the abolition amendment. 
Worthington, elected earlier, came across the prairies 
to railhead, and was sworn into office on Dec. 21. Both 
Secretary of the Navy Welles and Attorney General 
Bates record in their Diaries that on Sept. 30 
Seward, the Secretary of State, produced at a Cabinet 
meeting a telegram from Governor Nye announcing 
the adoption of the Constitution, and urged that 
the President accept this notice as sufficient warrant 
for the issuance of the proclamation of admission. 
Other members of the Cabinet deprecated this idea and 
Lincoln adhered to the letter of the law. The terms 
of the Act could be fulfilled only by using the Over- 
land Telegraph line, which had been completed a couple 
of years before. 

That despatch is on file in the National Archives. It 
covers 175 pages and embodies about 15,000 words. 
Another copy was forwarded by Overland Mail and 
express riders, and a third by the roundabout ocean 
trip from San Francisco. On March 3, 1865, the Legis- 
lature appropriated for payment of the telegraph bill 
$3416.77. Two Morse operators tapped-out that im- 
mense message by the dot-and-dash system. One was 
Frank Bell, the district manager at the time of the Cali- 
fornia State Telegraph Company. Me was appointed 
Lieutenant Governor in 1889 and succeeded to the 
Governorship on the death of the incumbent. All day 
long on Oct. 26 he bent over his key. The message 
was relayed at Chicago and Philadelphia and was re- 
ceived in Washington on Oct. 28. The President 
issued his proclamation on the last day of that month. 
Nevada duly cast her electoral vote for Lincoln and 
Johnson on the Union ticket. 

Nevada Ratifies 13th Amendment 

For the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, the 
ratification of Nevada also was considered imperative. 
With 36 States, 27 ratifications would be necessary, 
and there was apprehension that the amendment might 
fail unless Nevada could be counted upon. The day 
after the House passed the resolution Illinois ratified 
the amendment, two more States ratified next day, and 
three others the third day. Nevada was swift but dis- 
tance was against her. Carson City acted on Feb. 16, 
providing the fifteenth ratification. By Dec. 9 the re- 
quired number of States had acted, among them eight 
former members of the Confederacy. Before the turn 




Lincoln's first portrait, aged 37. Taken when he began 

riding the circuit. Reprinted from March, 1937, issue 

of the Journal. 

of the year three more States had ratified, including 
one more Confederate State. 

The "Battle Born" State 

For three reasons the admission of Nevada was pro- 
moted by President Lincoln, and all three were war 
measures : to ensure the adoption of the abolition reso- 
lution in Congress, to obtain a precious cluster of votes 
for the President in the Electoral College, and to sup- 
ply one more ratification for the abolition amendment. 
With excellent reason did Bancroft long ago, and the 
Federal Judge of the District of Nevada, Frank H. 
Norcross, recently, with scores of others between, pro- 
nounce Nevada "the Battle-Born State." 



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Inc.. 
MANUFACTURERS 

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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA 

973 7L63BB87A COD 1 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN ANO THE STATEHOOD OF NEV 




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